Requested By and Dedicated to: AvatarAiris

For being the first to review my Ursa-Centric fic, She Smiles C: I know it's not Zutara and nothing like what my readers actually read and review, so I appreciate the support in varying fics, knowing that people like my writing and not just the people I centralize a story around.

Rated: T

Characters: Ursa, Ozai, Azulon

Genre: Drabble-esque, One-shot, A bit of Zutara in the end C: (because I can't resist)

Summary: One death, two losses. Documentations of Azulon's demise.

Disclaimer: If I owned Avatar would I be sitting around writing fanfiction?

This is the first time I'm attempting anything like this, so please let me know what you think and ConCrit and such feedback is very much appreciated. If it's a bit confusing, I'm sorry, there are subtleties ladden in here that I didn't dare expand on for fear of making it over-bearing. I hope it's alright, and that you all understand it (and enjoy it) especially AvatarAiris, to whom this is for :D


EPISTLES


RECIPIENT: Prince Ozai

CORRESPONDENT: Fire Lord Azulon

OZAI, remember what we have discussed. Even considering usurping your own brother's birthright is regarded as treason, and as such I will be expecting you to make amends. Remember our agreement, and take care of it swiftly, or else I will be forced to take matters into my own hands.

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RECIPIENT: Fire Lord Azulon

CORRESPONDENT: Prince Ozai

YES father, I remember what we have agreed upon. I will do as you wish, taking my punishment as any man would. Do not worry, I will do my part, and my sincerest of apologies where betraying Iroh is concerned. I meant no harm to my brother and was only thinking of the crown's best interest. The Fire Nation needs a strong man to rule, someone they can depend on to remain stead-fast – and because of Lu Ten's death, Iroh has proved to be quite the opposite of just what the Fire Nation needs.

But I will do as you wish and honor your word. I will do my best to please you and earn your trust and respect. I only hope that you will learn to forgive my act of selfishness in due time, my Lord.

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RECIPIENT: Prince Ozai

CORRESPONDENT: Fire Lord Azulon

ENOUGH, just do as you were told!

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RECIPIENT: Fire Lord Azulon

CORRESPONDENT: Prince Ozai

I will attend to matters swiftly, father. My son's life will be given up to reunite cousin with cousin.

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RECIPIENT: Prince Ozai

CORRESPONDENT: Princess Ursa

DO not assume that I was spying; the messages were mistakenly delivered to me. I will not mention the name of the servant, but I want you to know that I am well aware of what you are planning, why you are planning it, and fully disagree with what you and Fire Lord Azulon have decided! This is not just some animal you can sacrifice to appease a disgruntled Spirit! This is your son! Your own living, breathing, flesh.

Our first born!

Is it true what I have read? The letters you and your father have been sending, you can't be serious! Ozai, please, reconsider, there must be some other way! Your brother would never let you sacrifice your own son in order to learn the pain of loss! Plead with him, plead with Fire Lord Azulon! Some other agreement will be made, I am certain of it!

Ozai, please, think about what you have agreed to!

Think of Zuko!

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RECIPIENT: Princess Ursa

CORRESPONDENT: Prince Ozai

BELOVED, you are indeed spying. This is a violation of privacy, you know your eyes are not to see such matters! You are lucky that I do not report this treachery and have your eyes gouged.

As for Zuko's fate, what is there to think about? He is destined for nothing. He has no skill, no talent, unlike our precious Azula who has excelled tremendously in everything she has ever attempted. It would do our nation good to be rid of Zuko. If it is any child to sacrifice in order for me to learn a lesson of loss – I rather it be him.

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RECIPIENT: Prince Ozai

CORRESPONDENT: Princess Ursa

PLEASE reconsider. Think of me, then, think of our firstborn. Of everything he represents. Our love, our unity! Ozai, you cannot do this, nothing in the world is worth sacrificing your own son! What kind of message will you be sending the Nation?

-

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RECIPIENT: Princess Ursa

CORRESPONDENT: Prince Ozai

DO not tell me how to rule my own country!

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RECIPIENT: Prince Ozai

CORRESPONDENT: Princess Ursa

IT is not your country, yet.

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RECIPIENT: Princess Ursa

CORRESPONDENT: Prince Ozai

WHICH is why Zuko must die. Fire Lord Azulon is displeased. There is no other way to continue on this path to the throne aside from letting go. Understand that his demise will be for political gain. Appeasing the Fire Lord in order to reach the crown – understand that this is what I have been waiting for all my life. This is why I married. This is why you bore children. So that our family might rule with an iron fist. And Zuko's fist is made of mortal flesh.

There is no other way.

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RECIPIENT: Prince Ozai

CORRESPONDENT: Princess Ursa

YES, there is.

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-

Ursa stared at her reflection in the vanity mirror, at the pale and terrified face staring back. She recognized nothing of herself, of the woman who grew up with silly notions of love and fairy-tale endings. Ever since she was but a little girl, she wished for her own happily-ever-after and was given instead a twisted form of what could possibly be a story to be passed down for generations of end. Certainly not the tale she hoped for herself. Where there were dashing princes and fair maidens, deceit and blood were sovereign. Where a happy family concluded the stories, a torn match loveless marriage replaced. It was a tragedy of sorts, one she couldn't wish herself out of, one she had to finish, and all she could do was hope that it might end with that happily-ever-after for someone else.

The princess stood in the dark, blinking at the image of her trembling figure, donned in glamorous silks of gold and crimson. Her hair was done up, brushed and silken to the touch, her make-up that was once fresh now ran down her cheeks in colored rivulets, merging with the tears that have rarely touched her face. She was naïve to think that there would be a happy ending, ever since Azula was born things had changed.

Ever since Azula was born, Ozai could no longer see the simple pleasures in their son, focusing instead on success, on ruthless victory, on the prodigy. And now? Now all he could see was the crown, the throne, being Fire Lord. Family meant nothing to him, unless it could help. The memories she held of raising Zuko were fading, glimmering in the vestiges of her consciousness like fire-flies. First dim, then slowly becoming more visible, distinct, before fading once again. She found that it was much harder to grasp onto those cherished moments…

And so a dagger was grasped in their stead.

Her hand tightened about the hilt, knuckles whitening with the grip, and she tucked the weapon into the long sleeves of her flowing robes.

Behind her was the reflection of her husband. Once handsome and strong, proud and loving. Now only vindictive and without a heart. He was not the man she fell in love with, not the man she married, and certainly not the man who helped raise Zuko. Their first son. He was no longer the man who would smile into the sleeping face of their baby and remark on how he would some day be strong and proud. His touch, that was once comforting and warm, iced through the fabrics of her robes as his hands covered her shoulders.

Not at all affectionate, more commanding, challenging.

His eyes bore into their image, a looming shadow behind a pale and quivering princess.

"Do it," he murmured into the caves of her ear, breath spreading heat across her chilled skin. "Do it for Zuko."

Ursa shivered with a start, muscles tensing, the tears callously streaming down her porcelain face. "I—I can't," she choked out in a staggered breath, baring her teeth with the effort to keep from crying, but to no avail. "I can't…I can't—"

The prince's fingers pressed into her shoulders, bruising, vicious. "You can," he asserted harshly, "You will—or else Zuko's blood will be on your hands." He stared steadily into her reflection's face, frowning at the signs of weakness – tears and sorrow and sympathy and fear. Pathetic. "Is that what you want, Ursa? To carry the guilt of your son's death?"

Ursa bit her lower lip, tasting blood on her tongue. "No, no," she pleaded, shaking her head in desperation. She couldn't bear the thought of Zuko's life being in her hands, she couldn't let this go undone, not when he was in danger – her first born, her only son. The reason for her happiness. She would leave it all behind, leave him behind and possibly taint her own name in the process of Ozai let it get so far.

"Then you will do this," her husband demanded, urging her towards the door, "For me."

She took a single steadying breath, her fingers locked around the dagger's hilt, and approached their grand double-doors. She glanced back at Ozai, shadowed in the darkness of their room, and knew that he was staring at her with those hardened eyes, uncaring and selfish. What monster had she married? For him to stand there and urge her to kill their first born son? Without so much as a bat of the eye? Without a single hesitance?

As she slipped out the door, she nodded to herself, drying her tears and striding down the hall,

"No, for Zuko."

-

-

A neatly folded message tucked into an envelope, and a freshly cleaned dagger laid upon it, the inscription catching the glimmer of the torchlight as she opened the door and fled her son's room, pulling her hood over her head.

Never Give Up Without a Fight.

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RECIPIENT: Fire Lord Ozai

CORRESPONDENT: Prince Iroh

I have just been informed of Princess Ursa's disloyalty. What happened? What is to become of her? What could have possessed her to do something so horrible? Oh, and congratulations, my dear brother, on ascending to the throne. I am sure our father made a wise decision, making his last wish to be your rule.

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RECIPIENT: Prince Iroh

CORRESPONDENT: Fire Lord Ozai

DO not let this information leak out. We were appalled with Ursa's treacherous behavior, and have no idea what might have brought it about. We have not taken her life for this act of treason, claiming instead that Fire Lord Azulon passed away in his sleep. I could not bear to have her name tarnished so – she has thus been banished, never to return to this Nation, never to repeat what has happened within the palace walls. I simply could not stand the thought of ordering the death of my beloved wife.

You know I am sorry to hear of Lu Ten's passing, and I, too, know the pain of loss.

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RECIPIENT: Fire Lord Ozai

CORRESPONDENT: Prince Iroh

MY condolences to your unfortunate circumstance, dearest little brother.

I, too, know the pain of treachery.

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RECIPIENT: Prince Zuko

CORRESPONDENT: Fire Lady Ursa

IT is with a heavy heart that I write this letter, but you must know the truth, my darling Zuko. I will be leaving tonight, and I'm afraid you will never see me again, but believe me, my son, that everything I have done has been done in order to protect you. My child, my love, the only one I trust.

You may think that you are inadequate, but Zuko, you have something both your father and your sister lack – heart. Compassion. It is that human instinct that will allow you to do things far greater than anything they could ever hope to achieve. You have the capacity to love, Zuko, and with that power you will be undefeatable.

I wish that I could watch you grow up. Oh, how I wish that I could watch you grow older, watch you mature and become stronger and excel in whatever you do. I wish I could watch you make your mistakes and learn from them. I wish I could watch you get up, just one more time…

You are the only reason I am here, Zuko. You, only you.

And now you are why I must go. You are my love, my life, Zuko, and to protect you I must leave you. I hope you do not hate me for this, please don't assume that I've abandoned you here. I want you to grow up and become strong, become the man you were always meant to be – and not the man your father thinks you ought to become. Not the man Azula taunts into becoming. But the man you see yourself as.

Never lose sight of your own morals. Never forget about love and compassion and understanding. Never give up, never succumb, and always, always fight.

That is what I love about you.

You keep on fighting even when things are hard.

Keep going, Zuko, and most of all, never ever forget who you are.

Not Fire Prince Zuko, Son of Ursa and Fire Lord Ozai.

Just Zuko…and I promise you, my love, that that's enough.

It will always be enough.

"Zuko?"

The name itself, nothing else, Zuko. Just Zuko.

A dark and slender hand touched his shoulder and he turned to face the waterbender. She was looking at him oddly, with those sincere cobalt eyes, compassionate, powerful, and everything in between. The girl was scowling, just faintly, betraying her concern. Her fingers brushed against his cheek, he realized a second later, only to catch a fallen tear. "What's the matter?"

The prince shook his head, folding the letter and tucking it into his pocket, and plastered a smile onto his face. It was the anniversary of that night; the night his grandfather passed, the night his mother disappeared. It was also the night Fire Lord Ozai was defeated, the night his Uncle Iroh ascended the throne. It was a special night for so many reasons, both good and bad, but even with all the good, he was unable to forget the past.

But he shouldn't, should he?

He would never forget.

"Nothing, I'm just…it's nothing," he assured her, reaching out to cradle her chin in a single hand. He made sure never to hurt her, never to bruise her skin or char her flesh. He made sure he would never make her cry, never make her run, never disappoint.

She offered the smallest of smiles, leaning into his touch, into the warmth of his palm. "Are you ready to come down, then? Your people are waiting to meet their new Fire Lord."

Waiting to greet him, just him. The betrayer, the banished, the forgotten and unwanted prince. A savior of this world, alongside the Avatar. Himself and nothing more – his opinions, his decisions, his morals.

His heart.

He grinned, meeting his lips with hers for the thousandth time.

"Yes," he said with certainty, looking into the face of his lover, his future, "I'm ready."


FIN


SO I hope it was OK C: I'd love to hear what you guys thought. Now that you've read it, I'll just sum up exactly what you've read: Ursa killed Azulon with the dagger Iroh gave to Zuko.

She left him the dagger and the letter when she woke him up in the middle of the night, and he found them the morning after. Of course, he had no idea what happened and what was going on. As for the dagger, Azula passed by his room (the door of which was left open the night before by Azula) and found his dagger sitting on the dresser and just took it - she didn't really much care for the letter.

Iroh didn't believe Ozai's explanation for Ursa's disappearance. His little comment on knowing the pain of treachery implies that he is suspicious of his own brother, but he does not say any more than that, and Ozai does not bother looking into it.

The ending is on the eve of Zuko's coronation.

Iroh didn't die, he's just stepped down from the throne to hand it over to Zuko (who has yet to propose to Katara XP because I can't resist the Zutaraness). And it's years ago that everything Zuko described happened, just somehow all around the same night. There are no records of exactly when everything happened - so he's just guesstimating.

Zuko only read the last letter, the one addressed to him - he wasn't reading all of them, but he knows what really happened, he was told by Ozai just before Aang killed him. Yes, Aang's alive and well and...I really don't know who he's with, but that's not the point of this one-shot, was it? Lol, so here it is, what happened the night of Azulon's death in little snippets C:

Hope it was alright, and thanks so much for reading!